What is integration platform as a service (iPaaS)?
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What is iPaaS?

iPaaS, or integration platform as a service, is a self-service cloud-based solution that standardizes how applications are integrated, simplifying integration across on-premises and cloud environments. iPaaS is also referred to as cloud integration or cloud-based integration.

Business technologists, citizen and professional developers, integration specialists and consultants can all use iPaaS solutions out-of-the-box to quickly build the integration flows for sharing data within an organization or with multiple companies.

With iPaaS solutions, organizations can connect different applications, data, business processes and services, whether they are hosted on-premises, in a private cloud, or within a public cloud environment. iPaaS also gives DevOps, IT and business teams a way to build integrations quickly and enable real-time updates throughout the organization's application estate and ecosystem.

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The enterprise integration challenge

Enterprise integration has traditionally been a challenge for IT departments.  

In the past, companies integrated their business processes through custom programming, enterprise middleware or enterprise application integration (EAI) implementations, such as service-oriented architecture (SOA). These integration solutions worked but were expensive and time consuming to create. They also left companies susceptible to data silos, due to lack of data exchange, so that one part of the organization did not have visibility into another. This lack of visibility created inefficiencies when data needed to be shared.

To remain competitive, as well as to respond and adapt to market changes quickly, organizations have accelerated their adoption of digital technologies, including SaaS applications, and cloud services. This rapid adoption has led to the proliferation of applications across the organization both on-premises and on multiple clouds.

With the vast number of applications, including SaaS applications and cloud applications, being integrated within a single organization today, it has become unwieldy for IT departments to build custom integrations.  

In addition, the expansion of network services, edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) has created further demand for rapid integration with a wide range of products. Companies today must be able to rapidly integrate applications and services that live on-premises, in private clouds, at the edge, and in multiple vendors’ public clouds.

Benefits of iPaaS

When compared to traditional integration methods, iPaaS solutions deliver these benefits: 

  • Faster time to value: Operations, business and development teams can get started right away with iPaaS—they simply subscribe and start integrating.

  • Automate work: iPaaS solutions help create workflows to streamline and automate manual processes and repetitive tasks so users can spend more time on higher value work.

  • Improved scalability: The self-service model of iPaaS scales easily as your integration needs grow across your ecosystem.

  • Data integration: iPaaS allows organizations to integrate data from various tools, platforms and applications and improves the quality of data exchange, to ensure the delivery of trusted data for decision making.

  • Improved connectivity: When processes and data are updated and synchronized across applications throughout the organization, users can get the data they need when they need it. 

  • Ease of use for all users: The emergence of low code or no code technology is making self-service integration a reality and accelerating the adoption of iPaaS across the organization. Many iPaaS vendors offer no code or low code solutions that allow non-developers or citizen integrators to build, configure and manage integrations, without requiring coding expertise.

  • Built-in API management: iPaaS eliminates the need to publish custom APIs or combine APIs from other services. It’s all in the iPaaS platform, creating a more scalable and secure solution for managing APIs throughout the lifecycle.

  • Simplified and improved B2B integration: Every business has its own process for exchanging information with partners. Different applications used at different companies make it difficult to communicate. Businesses can use iPaaS to improve B2B integration and ultimately increase revenue and improve time to market. 

How iPaaS works

iPaaS provides a single solution and a consistent process for data exchange and data integration between all the applications in your enterprise, whether they’re on-premises or in the cloud. 

The platform is hosted and managed by your cloud provider and offered as a service—you simply subscribe to the platform, choose the tools and services you need to configure and automate integration between applications, and get to work. The cloud provider handles the rest, including data governance, security, software patches, hardware maintenance and new feature updates whenever they become available.

iPaaS use cases

Companies are turning to iPaaS to more easily manage applications and data, quickly integrate legacy systems, and solve complex integration problems as they modernize applications. The versatility is attractive across the organization. Common use cases of iPaaS solutions include:

HR: Optimize the hiring process; employee onboarding; and payroll and benefits.

Marketing: Accelerate data enrichment and intent-based campaigns; and account-based marketing orchestration.

Finance: Integrate core banking services; financial planning and billing.

Sales: Manage opportunity management; lead routing; SLAs; and metrics and forecasting. 

IT: Automate ticket escalation and management; helpdesk management; and threat management.

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Resources 2023 Gartner® Critical Capabilities

IBM was named #1 in four out of the six use cases in the 2023 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Integration Platform as a Service, Worldwide.

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APIs simplify software development and innovation by enabling applications to exchange data and functionality easily and securely.

Take the next step

IBM App Connect is an integration platform that connects your applications and data no matter where they reside. With hundreds of prebuilt connectors and customizable templates, organizations can rapidly connect applications and build integration flows. Deploy it on-premises, on cloud, or as a fully managed Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) on Amazon Web Services.

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